August 31, 1982 in Grangeville, Idaho
2 and a half year old Ricky Ray Barnet was visiting his grandparents’ dairy with his father. The farm was massive, covering several hundred acres.
Workers were rushing about unloading a truck of chickens. Barnet watched from atop a hay wagon in front of one of the chicken coups.
The next thing anyone knew, Barnet was gone.
The police were called and a search commenced. Bloodhounds were brought in and they picked up on a scent, but they lost it at the edge of the farm. No other sign of Barnet was ever found.
205 volunteers combed the farm for 4 days, but Ricky was gone.
Police immediately suspected Barnet’s grandparents, Waldo and Martha McChoard. They would remain the lead suspects for 20 years.
Martha didn’t act like a grieving grandmother and authorities came after her for it. She took a polygraph, but the results were inconclusive.
There had been animosity between the McChoards and Barnet’s mother. People accused the grandparents of secretly putting him up for adoption to keep him from being returned to his mother.
In May 2001, Martha agreed to take another polygraph test. This time she passed. Waldo was set to take one, but he passed away before it could be administered. Police have cleared Martha of any involvement in the disappearance of her grandson.
Barnet’s mother has never given up hope of finding him.
A couple years later, a man from Florida contacted the Sheriff’s department claiming to be Barnet. It was clear to investigators that he was not Barnet.
In 2006, a man from South Dakota contacted the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He thought that he might be Barnet. He submitted a baby photo and it looked almost identical to photos of Barnet.
A DNA test was conducted and the man was not Barnet.
The case remains open.
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